1. Russia

Voice of America: Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 20

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

3 a.m.: Reuters reported that Justice ministers from around the world will meet in London on Monday to discuss scaling up support for the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant last week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The ICC accused Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. Moscow rejects the charges, calling the move unacceptable and saying it has no legal force in Russia which is not an ICC member. 

“We are gathering in London today united by one cause: to hold war criminals to account for the atrocities committed in Ukraine during this unjust, unprovoked and unlawful invasion,” British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said. 

2:30 a.m.: When Roman Melnikov left Darasun, a tiny hamlet in Siberia’s Zabaikalye region, in 2015, few were sad to see him go. He had been sentenced to nine years in prison for manslaughter after being convicted of beating a cafe patron to death during a robbery, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.   

But when Melnikov’s remains returned to the village last month in a military coffin from the war in Ukraine, dismayed residents watched as he was given a funeral with military honors, including an honor guard, paid for in part by the village administration.   

“What is happening?” local resident Nina, who asked that her last name be withheld for fear of repercussions, told RFE/RL’s Siberia.Realities. “A prisoner who went to war just so he could get out of prison is suddenly a hero? My friends and I are shocked. The world really has turned upside down.”   

Melnikov was one of tens of thousands of Russian convicts believed to have been recruited to fight in Ukraine in the ostensibly private Wagner mercenary army of Kremlin-connected businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who himself served nine years in a Soviet prison on a robbery conviction. 

2 a.m.: Official: Russia damaged or seized more than 1,700 fire trucks, hundreds of fire stations during full-scale war, The Kyiv Independent reported.  


Some of these lost assets were damaged by shelling, and the rest were seized by the Russian army in occupied areas, said State Emergency Service head Serhii Kruk. 

1:30 a.m.: They share a common enemy in Russian President Vladimir Putin, who unleashed an invasion that has killed tens of thousands of people in Ukraine and is jailing opponents, curtailing freedoms, and crushing dissent at home, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.    

But more than a year after Moscow’s large-scale offensive began, massively escalating a war that broke out almost a decade ago in the Donbas, many Ukrainians are distrustful and dismissive of the Russian opposition — and particularly of Putin’s most prominent foe, Aleksei Navalny.   

Nothing illustrates this more starkly than the outrage caused by the Oscar that a documentary — eponymously titled Navalny — tracking the now-imprisoned politician and anti-corruption campaigner as he recovered from a near-fatal August 2020 nerve-agent poisoning he blames on Putin won at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on March 12.   

For many in the United States and the West, this year’s award for Best Documentary Feature Film was precisely a rebuke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During his acceptance speech, the documentary’s Canadian-born director, Daniel Roher, said Navalny is being punished “for what he calls…Vladimir Putin’s unjust war of aggression in Ukraine.” 

1 a.m.: 


12:30 a.m.: Four Ukrainian servicemen killed in unknown incident at training center, The Kyiv Independent reports.    

More specific details of the tragedy were not provided. According to the statement by the training center in Chernihiv Oblast, the State Bureau of Investigation has launched an official investigation. 

12:01 a.m.: Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has cited Ukraine’s “own example” of confiscating sovereign and private Russian assets within its borders to urge Kyiv’s allies to do the same and contribute to a war recovery effort estimated to cost over $700 billion. But Ukraine’s experience seizing these assets has proven problematic and slow-moving, a probe by Schemes, the investigative unit of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, found, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.    

Out of a list of 905 Russian state assets, only two — Prominvestbank and the International Reserve Bank — have been transferred to the National Investment Fund of Ukraine’s control since the campaign of confiscations began in May 2022, three months after Moscow launched its large-scale invasion of the country.   

And, despite presidential decrees authorizing sanctions against a number of Russian oligarchs, only four — Oleg Deripaska, Yevgeny Giner, Mikhail Shelkov, and Vladimir Yevtushenko — have actually lost their Ukrainian assets. 

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

Voice of America

WP Radio
WP Radio